10 tips (plus one as a bonus!) for choosing your translation provider

Imagine that you need the translation of a legal document on data protection for your company. Or that your firm has opened up new markets and you need to translate all your product information into another language (or several). Or maybe you need the translation of a clinical study, a technical manual or a financial report.

You know that you’re looking for quality, economical prices and the shortest possible translation time. You do a search on Google, and you find hundreds of translation agencies that offer all these requirements. How do you choose the right one?

As a quality translation agency that has been working for over 12 years in the sector, we know what it takes to ensure that a translation is done well. We’d like to share the 10 most important points:

1. Assess the level of specialization and quality that you’re looking for: sending the final translation of a text internally to three employees isn’t the same as sending it to your clients.

2. Be sure that the translators are natives (of the target language) and professional (they have a university degree in translation or, at least, years of experience): being bilingual is not the same as being a translator, just like knowing how to change a flat tyre doesn’t make us a mechanic.

3. Find out how long the agency has been in business: while time is usually important in all sectors, it is especially so in translation, because it means experience gained. Usually a good indicator of experience is if an agency asks you about the objective of the translation. If they ask you about the reason for the text and about the target audience, then they probably know what they’re doing.

4. Check if the company offers comprehensive services: the more specializations, linguistic combinations and pre- and post-translation services it offers (analysis of the original text, revision, desktop publishing), the more complete and experienced the company will be. Consequently, it is usually easier to find translation agencies that handle all these tasks, as opposed to freelance translators.

5. Ask if there are several roles involved in the translation project: ideally, there is a project manager (who prepares, analyses and manages the project); a native, professional translator who is a specialist on the subject (who translates); and a reviewer (who edits/proofreads the translation).

6. Ask if they use tools that are particular to the world of translation: Computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools, programmes for verifying or reviewing the translated text and translation memory tools, glossaries and databases.

7. Check if they have certification according to ISO standards. These are international standards that guarantee the quality of a company after comprehensive controls have been conducted. The standard pertaining to the translation sector is quality standard ISO 1700:2015.

8. Assess the translation time that’s offered: in this case, less is not more. A shorter translation time is not normally the same thing as higher quality, rather just the opposite. Like an original text, in order for a translation to be well done, it has to be gone over and read several times. If they tell you that they can translate 10,000 words in a day, beware!

9. Keep in mind the importance of fluid communication with the translation agency. Did they take a long time to respond to your emails? Do they answer the phone? Do they ask you about doubts that can come up? Having peace of mind when communicating with a company and knowing they’ll take care of you quickly at any time is essential, whether it’s to answer questions about the status and progress of a project or to go over requirements.

10. Search for references and opinions, both online and by asking people you know.

And one final tip!

11. Ask about confidentiality at the company. Normally, the company should provide you with a non-disclosure agreement, according to which it will not disclose information related to your original documents. Protect your assets!

As a translation agency, at Siens Translation we also keep these aspects at the forefront: over the years we have made sure that we comply with each one of the aforementioned points, thereby allowing us to offer the best translation services. With us, quality is assured.